Ask the EcoGeek: Green Driving at Six Feet Tall


I'm considering purchasing a 2007 Mercedes Bluetec e320 Diesel. My question is "Is this car really green?"

My 04 Prius has 60k miles and is worse for wear and I'm too tall to comfortably drive it any longer. I can't help but think the Bluetec is a step in reverse for me personally and that I really want to move forward with a Plug-in Hybrid or full EV, but no options exist. I'm tired of driving a constrictive tiny car built for the 95% of Japanese people, I'm not willing to accept a hybrid SUV, the notion is ridiculous. I want 50mpg+! and I want to stop BURNING fuel. What's my next car?

Hey Lex,

Is the Mercedes Bluetec e320 Diesel green? Well, one thing's for doesn't feel as green as a Prius. Unfortunately, it's hard to get both the green feeling and the headroom. Green cars aren't small because they're built for Japanese people, they're small because to be efficient, cars need to be light, and present a low profile to the 70 mph winds that constantly buffet highway cars. Of course, that's one reason why diesels are an intriguing option. They may not seem green, but they do provide more power while producing less CO2. The e320 Diesel is a great car, and while you might not look green, you will look good while getting almost 40 mpg. The carbon savings are there, but, you're absolutely right, it's a step backwards from a Prius.

The real question is, what are the options for folks who want efficiency as well as comfort. Unfortunately, for a real choice, you're going to have to go small or wait. I seriously would suggest halving your budget and going to your Honda and Toyota dealerships to check out the Fit, the Yaris, the Civic, the Altima and even the Corolla. These cars aren't really built for the same markets as a $50,000 BluTec Benz, but while your friends might think you're crazy, they won't when you tell them how much you spend on gas.

If the second option, waiting, sounds more pleasant, then you might very well have some nice options coming down the pipe. The 2008 Prius will have a different body, so you might find it more comfortable than the '04. Additionally, the 2009 Prius might very well offer a plug-in version that will allow you realize your dream of not burning fuel anymore. At least until you hit 40 mph. Also, I should mention that the new body is absolutely beautiful.

Into the 2010s I promise you'll start seeing vehicles that will not only burn less (or no) fuel, they will also have folks drooling at the sweetness of your style. Plug-in and hybrid options will start popping onto the market in all shapes and sizes and full EV cars might not be too far away.

I'm afraid those are your options. The ultra-efficient BluTec diesel engines allow for big beautiful cars to get pretty decent gas mileage. I understand wanting to lay your cash down there, if you've got it. But if you really want to look, feel and be green...go small...or wait.

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